Gabon’s minister
of industry and mines
Regis Immongault
Perth, Australia — 31 August 2012 – The government of Gabon may not award its Belinga iron ore concession before 2014, according to a government minister, after the west African country opted to re-assess how much iron ore the deposit contains, in the latest in a series of delays to plague the project.

Reuters reports that China’s CMEC, which had secured rights to Belinga in a 2007 deal, lost the concession following concerns about the environmental impact of the project, and then over whether CMEC would be able to deliver.

“One of the commitments was for the Chinese to work as rapidly as possible and to get into production. Unfortunately, the Chinese did not meet the expectations of the government,” minister of industry and mines Regis Immongault told Reuters at a mining industry conference here.

“Now the government has decided to do an additional evaluation of the resources of this deposit with the objective of having a precise idea of the resource,” he added.

The government evaluation of the iron ore deposit may take up to 18 months or by 2014, Immongault said, but added that it could be done as early as next year.

In February, a government official had told Reuters that the Belinga concession had been awarded to BHP Billiton, but BHP declined to comment.

However, Immongault said the concession would only be awarded after the re-assessment of the iron ore deposit.

“After this evaluation, we will have a round table with the interested partners to see how we can go ahead with the development phase of the project, and the Chinese will be part of this round table, he explained.

Source: Reuters Africa. For more information, click here.